Shortly after he was interviewed in Beirut by "60 Minutes," mysterious arms merchant Frank Terpil supposedly was kidnapped by terrorists. The Washington rumor mill had it that Terpil was killed for talking about his business dealings. True?

Like Mark Twain's death, "rumors of (Terpil's) death have been greatly exaggerated," says assistant U.S. attorney Lawrence Barcella in Washington. After Terpil's November disappearance, the smart money marked him as dead. But Barcella says now he thinks Terpil is alive because of reports received from the Middle East. Along with sidekick Gary Korkola, Terpil was convicted in absentia in New York of illegally selling weapons. Korkola, arrested in Spain while attending a security trade show--guns, wiretaps and the like-- is now in a Madrid jail awaiting extradition.

Is author Gore Vidal really the grandson of former Tennessee senator Albert Gore as reported in this column a few weeks ago? And does Vidal have any serious support in California for his bid to become a Democratic senator?

We erred. Albert Gore Sr. is Vidal's cousin; Vidal's grandfather, Thomas, was a senator from Oklahoma. In California, Vidal lags behind his primary opponent, Gov. Jerry Brown, in the polls and must capture most of a large number of "undecided" voters to win. Among his supporters are such state party heavyweights as millionaire Max Palevsky, television producer Norman Lear, attorney John Tunney and stars including Ed Asner, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.